Quandaries and Queries

Name: John

Who is asking: Teacher
Level: All

I am trying to find out any information concerning the development of the order of operations. for example, when (why/how) did it become the case that 2 + 3 x 5 =17, rather than 25.

any insight is appreciated. Thank you.

Hi John,

There is a wonderful collections of web sites mailtained by Jeff Miller, a teacher at Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Florida. One of his sites is called Earliest Uses of Various Mathematical Symbols. If you go there, follow the link to Symbols of operation, and then scroll down the page to ORDER OF OPERATIONS you will find some useful information, in particular it says "The convention that multiplication precedes addition and subtraction was in use in the earliest books employing symbolic algebra in the 16th century."


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